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Submitted photo A rendering shows the YMCA wellness center being built in Bismarck-Mandan.

Sanford, YMCA to build family wellness center

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MANDAN, N.D. — Sanford Health and the YMCA unveiled plans Monday to bulldoze a weed-infested mini-golf course and go-cart track in Mandan to make room for a $12.3 million wellness center that officials said will help meet the fitness, recreation and childcare needs of the growing Bismarck-Mandan community.

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Construction is expected to start next spring on Family Wellness, the same name used for similar Sanford-YMCA partnership facilities in Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D.

The 41,000-square-foot facility will sit just south of the Raging Rivers Waterpark owned by Mandan Parks & Recreation, next to the golf course and go-cart track that haven’t been used for several years.

It’s slated to open in spring 2016.

Unlike the Family Wellness centers in Fargo and Sioux Falls, the Mandan facility will provide full reciprocity with the existing Missouri Valley Family YMCA facility in north Bismarck, giving members of either facility the option of using the other at no extra charge.

Bill Bauman, executive director and CEO of the Missouri Valley Family YMCA, said it was important to create a network between the two facilities.

“This is breaking new ground,” he said.

The facility will feature fitness studios, a gymnasium, a wellness center with workout equipment, a suspended walking track and “much-needed” day care services, Bauman said, noting the YMCA already had received phone calls from parents wanting to be put on the waiting list before the project was publicly announced.

“We’re going to create a vibrant and healthy community. We’re going to fight obesity and disease. We’re going to take care of our aged population,” he said at a press conference Monday morning.

The plans don’t include a swimming pool, but that could change if additional donors step forward, Bauman said.

At least $2 million of the Mandan facility’s cost will come from a public fundraising campaign that has already raised $800,000, officials said. Sanford will pay $5.25 million and the YMCA will cover $3.35 million of the project cost.

As their contribution to the project, Mandan Parks & Recreation and the Mandan Visitors Fund paid $1.7 million for the five acres of land at 2620 46th Ave. SE that will support the facility.

Park Board President Jason Arenz said $200,000 came from the park district’s general fund and the other $1.5 million is a loan that will be paid back by the Visitors Fund, which is supported by a 1 percent city restaurant and lodging tax. The property was purchased from Dickinson-based Gas U Up LLC, whose registered agent is Tracy Tooz.

Bauman said population growth in Bismarck-Mandan has put more pressure on the existing Bismarck YMCA, a 170,000-square-foot complex that was built in 1971 and serves about 17,000 people.

The combined population of Bismarck and Mandan grew from 72,250 in 2000 to an estimated 86,921 as of July 1, 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bismarck metropolitan statistical area, which covers all of Burleigh and Morton counties, grew from 114,778 people in 2010 to an estimated 123,751 as of July 1, 2013.

“It’s important for us to grow with the growing community,” Bauman said.

Sanford Bismarck President and CEO Craig Lambrecht said he and Bauman started talking a couple of years ago about how to improve family wellness in Bismarck-Mandan, and the Sanford-YMCA concept in Fargo and Sioux Falls was “something we just latched onto.”

“This is something I know — I know — our communities will adore,” he said.

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Mike Nowatzki
Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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